When I was a young I lived two blocks from the ocean in the heart of Daytona Beach, Florida. It was as close to paradise as a young boy could get without a girl being involved. But even though I spent my youth surfing, skateboarding and manning the jib sail of my neighbor’s 16 foot Hobie catamaran, none of it was enough to save me from the fate that awaited me when my wife and I took our teenage son to the mall to buy him some clothes for his upcoming senior year of high school.
It was on that day that I found out I was rockin’ the Hilfiger.
Anyone who has teenage children knows what a traumatic experience it is for them to be seen in public with their parents. We are just so uncool that it ruins their image to be seen with us. What they fail to realize is that we weren’t always so uncool.
So there I was standing in a clothing store at the mall, a surfing-themed clothing store if you can believe that, when a young salesperson walked up and spoke to me. His tone was one of unbridled amazement.
“Dude… I see you’re rockin’ the Hilfiger!” he said as he stared at my shirt, his eyes full of wonder.
“I beg your pardon?” I said.
“You’re rockin’ the Hilfiger,” he repeated. Then he reached up and touched the sleeve of my shirt like he thought it was made out of some sort of magic cloth.
“Nice shirt,” he said. “But we don’t sell anything like that in here. Can I help you with something else? Maybe something more stylish, like Neff or DC?” I could tell he was trying his best not to laugh.
“Neff? DC?” I said. “What?”
The kid just smiled and shook his head. In his eyes he knew I wasn’t nearly cool enough to understand his language, or to wear Neff or DC clothing. And like most kids his age, he was convinced that his generation had invented the surfing and skateboarding lifestyle. He had no idea that I am member of the Stacy Peralta generation, or that surfing legends Gerry Lopez and Tom Curren were my heroes when I was growing up in Daytona Beach. Well, them and Luke Skywalker but that’s another story.
So I decided to have a little fun and give the kid a run for his money.
“No thanks on the Neff and DC,” I said. “But I’ll take a cake of coconut Sex Wax. And I could use another pair of Quicks and a new leash. I broke my last one riding the outside during a huge swell at Ponce.”
The kid looked at me dumbfounded. “What?”
“Sex Wax. I’m sure you guys sell it. I mean, I see surfboards hanging on the walls. Don’t tell me you don’t sell Sex Wax.”
“Sex what?” was all he could manage.
“Wax,” I said.
“Um, I don’t think we sell that,” said the poor kid. Then he turned and walked away, outwitted by a middle-aged father of two wearing a Hilfiger shirt.
Even though I grew up at the beach and surfed almost every day of my life during my teenage years, had a year-round tan and a subscription to Surfer magazine, none of it was enough to save me from the passage of time.
I have long since hung up my Rip Curl wetsuits, sold my Logan Earth Ski skateboard and my Gordon and Smith thruster. And I haven’t sailed a reach on a catamaran in thirty five years.
The passage of time is a funny thing. Nothing stays the same. Wise adults know this. What the poor kid in the clothing store didn’t realize is that one day he will probably be standing in a mall with his son shopping for clothes. And he might even be wearing a Hilfiger shirt while he’s doing it.
And I can only hope that when that time comes he realizes there are worse things in life.